The website What’s Your Grief published a piece I wrote this summer. It highlights three contemporary middle-grade books that are ideal for facilitating meaningful conversations and classroom activities about trauma, grief, and loss with students.
I’ll admit I was drawn to Rob Harrell’s book, Wink, because of the cover. The orange pops and the simple illustration is eye-catching (pun intended). The fictional story of Ross Maloy is based on Harrell’s real-life trials of going through middle school with a rare eye cancer. As I do with most books I preview for sharing with students, I listened to this book and then checked out the physical copy from my school’s library. One of Harrell’s masterful lines resonated with me each time: Eventually, the day got dark and ran out the way even the worst days do.
Rajani LaRocca’s debut is all about duality: family traditions and fitting in, gains and losses, life and death. An art teacher at North Country School recommended the work to me and its lyrical prose did not disappoint. Reha is the main character, an Indian-American teen in the mid-1980s, who tells her story in one powerful stanza after another. In addition to working as a writer, LaRocca is also a medical doctor.
I can’t say enough about Michelle Cuevas’s sweet book, complete with whimsical illustrations, about young Stella and her black hole, Larry. This story includes so much about grief (Stella’s dad died) and growth (navigating out of the black hole) in real and relatable ways for kids and grown-ups alike. There’s also so much silliness mixed in with the science. Blast off.
To read the full review of these books: